The global piracy of films increased dramatically during the Covid pandemic, according to the latest report from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
“The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented spike in online piracy, with lockdowns and health concerns simultaneously shuttering cinemas, concert halls, and other venues for creative works and forcing people to stay home,” the report found.
In early 2020, film piracy increased by 41% in the United States, 43% in the U.K., 50% in Spain, 62% in India, and 66% in Italy, which the report said is “very concerning for the workers who contributed to the production of the creative works in question.”
See the full report here.
The report found that while this spike in the viewing of pirated films “was an outlier, troubling trends continue to exist across all media sectors.” Muso, a data company that measurers global piracy, found that from January to August 2022 there was a 21.9% increase in visits to piracy websites over the same eight-month period in 2021.
All industry sectors examined in the Muso report – including television, film, publishing, music, and software – saw an increase in piracy, and film piracy traffic increased the most dramatically, growing by 49.1% year-on-year.
“It is evident that the global demand for digital media and entertainment content is increasing, and that piracy continues to be an extremely prevalent means of accessing this content, despite the harm it causes workers involved in its creation,” the Trade Representative report says.
“Online piracy has real consequences and harms the economic security of workers in the entertainment, media, and other creative industries. Pirating of digital media can result in lowered revenues and wages across the industry, impairing workers’ benefits and job security. Copyright enforcement plays a central role in preventing online piracy. As technological development and the ubiquity of the Internet facilitate the high-speed, low-cost reproduction and transmission of digital content, strong copyright protection remains one of the best ways to support workers in the creative sectors. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the consumption of digital media across the globe, highlighting the importance of preventing online piracy and protecting the livelihoods of workers who rely on IP protections, not just in the United States but also internationally.”
The report makes clear that copyright holders are not the only ones hurt by piracy. Workers in the entertainment industry are also harmed. “Online piracy is not only highly detrimental to the U.S. economy as a whole, but it also has a strong impact on the everyday lives of individual workers. The structure of compensation in the entertainment industry, in which royalties and residuals are a significant portion of total pay and benefits, makes the impact of piracy on workers even more pernicious. As methods of online piracy continue to evolve, efforts to monitor and address digital content theft must do so as well, and effective enforcement action will require government and stakeholder coordination on how to best address this problem.”
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